Oh Shit, Derrick Killed Him
I really need to listen to my instincts more. This was the big takeaway from the years I spent writing prediction articles for previous iterations of The Rickety Old Shack.
Right here, I said in the my last post that I was unsure of myself:
I'm picking Blaydes, but I feel like the upset is a very real possibility — this is a much closer fight than it looks like on paper.
The first round looked good; Blaydes was keeping Lewis on the back foot with strikes, didn't expend any unnecessary energy on takedowns, and handily took it 10-9. Lewis seemed to be a bit frustrated, but that was mere speculation — Lewis is always hard to read correctly.
By the second round, Lewis seemed to have Blaydes' timing down, demolishing him with an uppercut counter to a takedown attempt, and landing 3 vicious follow-up shots that weren't necessary at all. Such is the 'sport' of MMA; Lewis put the blame on Herb Dean, and that's not unfair — he's been slow on the draw, when he hasn't also been wracked by uncertainty and indecision.
Michael Bisping, on commentary, called the finish in the first round, noting that an uppercut would be a perfect counter to the way Blaydes enters with his head down in such a predictable fashion. This seems to be a consistent liability, and Lewis's team no doubt scouted this deficiency well.
Derrick Lewis remains extremely underrated because of his unserious demeanor and candid thoughts. Everyone, myself included, took the safe pick and assumed Blaydes would "wrestle-fuck" Lewis to a decision victory. Once again, Lewis proves the doubters wrong.
Does he still have significant holes in his game? Sure, but he is a heavyweight; no other division has the dynamic that heavyweight does, where grappling and wrestling are fake, and hold no sway over the behemoths of MMA. Lewis is also evolving as a fighter, adapting his impressive physical talents to a division he is uniquely suited to.
"Derrick Lewis, UFC heavyweight champion" doesn't sound nearly as insane as it did even 2 years ago. What a trip this man's career has been to behold.
Published: February 21st, 2021.